SAY: Stories About You
SAY: Stories About You is a disaster relief app that allows children share their experiences from disasters, in a therapeutic environment.
Our app, SAY: Stories About You, and our efforts to use code to positively impact the community were featured on NBC News Learn's Education Now Houston broadcast, which addressed the issues in education facing students and teachers in the Houston area and across the country.
We were invited on FOX 26 News to discuss how our app could positively impact Hurricane Harvey recovery, specifically with children.
We were asked to speak at the CHILDREN AT RISK Hurricane Harvey Summit in front of various nonprofit organizations from around Houston to discuss how our app, SAY: Stories About You, could benefit children recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
This video gives a tour through the app and additional information on the different, unique aspects of our app.
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Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
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Twitter: @gamechangers418 || Instagram: @gamechangers418
Date You Started Your Project Started
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
The problem we're targeting is the impact natural disasters on the mental health of children. As climate change continues, the number of children affected by natural disasters each year will only rise. An estimated 5–43% of affected children will experience PTSD, depression, anxiety or other mental health issues. If not addressed, these problems will negatively impact children’s physical health, their home and school lives, and their futures.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
SAY is a disaster relief app targeted towards children. It allows children to share their stories and experiences from Hurricane Harvey and other disasters in a safe and anonymous environment. Through the app, children also have the ability to read others’ stories as well as take a short survey, donate to organizations in need, find shelters in their area during the time of the disaster and have access to different disaster relief resources. Our mission is to help children cope with the long lasting effects of Hurricane Harvey by allowing the community to heal and grow together. When a child shares their story through the app, they are able to express their emotions about a difficult subject without hate because the stories are shared anonymously with no comments. Also, when a child reads the stories of others, they are able to build connections with others who have experienced something similar, creating unity. We would also like to gather information and raise awareness on how children are recovering from the storm. Our app is available for help before, after, and during a disaster. As disasters continue to unfold across the United States we hope to take SAY to a national level.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey destroyed hundreds of communities and cities in the states of the gulf coast region, including our own home, Houston. We saw Hurricane Harvey bring disastrous flooding and utter devastation and despair to our home, and we knew of friends and families that had to evacuate and had lost homes. We experienced first-hand the damage of the disaster. Although we weren't seriously affected, Harvey still left mental scars on us, and we knew that other natural disasters have even greater effects on the mental health of other children, an issue that is easily overlooked. Even one and a half years later, many people were still recovering from the storm, and many children have PTSD, anxiety, stress, and more from Harvey. Instead of focusing only on physical disaster recovery, we wanted to focus on mental health during disaster recovery, something that personally impacted us.
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
First off is the stories page, where children can read others stories and filter them by storm or zipcode. In the add story section, children can add their stories by picking the disaster they experienced, typing in their zip code and their stories. After submitting a story, it shows up in the home page of the app for others to read. Also, there is a survey for children to take for research purposes. Shelters on a map for easy access and resources and donations for post disaster are available.
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
"Sally" is from Pasadena, Texas, and in 2017, Harvey flooded her home and destroyed her community. Even 2 years after the storm, the sounds of crackling thunder and the ominous rain are still engraved in her mind. Now every time she hears the sound of rain, she can't help but think of Harvey's destruction. To help her with her PTSD, her school counselor recommends her to discuss or write down her feelings and her experience with Harvey. This is where SAY comes in. With SAY, Sally will be able to anonymously share her story, which is a form of therapy for her PTSD. By sharing her own story, Sally will have taken the first step in mentally recovering from Harvey through acknowledging how Harvey has impacted her. Additionally, Sally will hopefully understand that she is not the only one who suffered because of a natural disaster after reading the stories of others.
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Most disaster relief apps only focus on physical recovery, which includes donations and shelters, but our app focuses on the mental health of children combined with disaster relief. Typically, disaster relief apps target adults, but SAY is a disaster relief that focuses on children and that raises awareness about how children are emotionally progressing after natural disasters like Harvey. It serves a platform for children to share their natural disaster experiences, something no other disaster relief app in the market does.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
To spread the positive effects of SAY, we partnered with CHILDREN AT RISK, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children in need. With their help, we gained a platform that enabled us to reach more children. We have been featured on NBC News and FOX 26 News. We even participated in CHILDREN AT RISK's Hurricane Harvey Summit to present the positive impact of our app to various nonprofits around Houston. Currently, we have stories, 71% of which is from high school students and 23% from middle school students, from over 25 different locations around the Houston area. For example, someone in zip code 77053 shared: “I have people that didn’t make it through the Hurricane Harvey.” Besides a large number of stories, we have approximately 150 responses to the survey within our app. We have had about 9,000 views of our app in the App Store, about 400 product page views, and almost 100 downloads.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
One of the biggest goals we have in mind is to expand our app to a national level. Clearly, our community is not the only one that has been impacted by natural disasters. Therefore, we hope to broaden SAY's impact. As disasters continue to unfold across America (ie. Dorian, Imelda, etc.), we are updating our app for each disaster, and we are working towards updating the locations of shelters and donation centers to reach communities across the US. At a regional level, we plan to add our app to Houston public libraries for those who do not have access to technology at home. Also, since our app is targeted towards children, we would like to add a feature where children can draw what happened in the disaster they experienced.
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